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Journalist assaulted by mayor and his bodyguards

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 12 August 2011, Pompilio Peña Ríos, a journalist for the "La Voz" news programme, broadcast by the radio and TV station La Ribereña, in Yurimaguas, was beaten by the mayor of Balsapuerto, Alfredo Torres Rucoba, and his bodyguards. The incident took place when the journalist asked the mayor to pay for the broadcasting of press releases from the Balsapuerto municipality, a town located in the Loreto Region, in eastern Peru.

Peña Ríos told IPYS that the incident took place in the street near the municipality's coordination office. When the journalist showed the mayor his unpaid invoices, the bodyguards twisted his hands, pushed him and threw him to the ground where the mayor kicked him and told him again and again that he would not deal with the press any longer, and that, furthermore, he "declared war on it."

Peña Ríos believes the mayor's reaction is related to the fact that, since March, he has been linked with the systematic murder of 12 Shawi natives, the area's dominant ethnic group; the attempted murder 15 days ago of Amazonian leader Segundo Pizango, and the recent beating by unidentified persons of teacher Adán Cervantes, all of whom opposed the mayor's administration.

As a result of the severe beating, the journalist has suffered injuries to his ribs and a fracture to his right wrist, according to a forensic doctor at the Prosecutor's Office, where a complaint has been filed for assault and attempted murder. In fact, an operation had already been scheduled for 17 August in a public hospital in Yurimaguas.

IPYS condemns the mayor's attack against the journalist.

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